Synopses & Reviews
In The Soundtrack of My Life, music legend Clive Davis recounts an extraordinary five-decade career in the music business, while also telling a remarkable personal story of triumphs, disappointments, and encounters with some of the greatest musical artists of our time, from Bob Dylan and Paul Simon to Whitney Houston and Alicia Keys.
Orphaned and impoverished in his teens, Davis overcame early hardships, earning a full scholarship to New York University and then one to Harvard Law School. As general counsel at Columbia Records, Davis quickly distinguished himself and capitalized on a lucky break to catapult to the presidency of the company. More surprisingly, he was to learn he had “ears,” a rare ability to spot talent and create hit records. Those ears contributed to the fabled success of three companies—Columbia, Arista, and J—where Davis discovered and developed more unique artists than anyone in the history of the music industry.
What began on the grass at the Monterey Pop Festival with the signing of Janis Joplin has evolved into a lifelong passion and calling, spanning the years and genres, including rock, pop, R&B, country, jazz fusion, and hip-hop. Through it all, Davis has discovered a pantheon of all-time greats: Bruce Springsteen; Billy Joel; Aerosmith; Carlos Santana; Blood, Sweat & Tears; Chicago; Earth, Wind and Fire; Barry Manilow; Patti Smith; Whitney Houston; Kenny G.; and Alicia Keys. In addition, he has championed and played a vital part in the careers of Simon and Garfunkel, Miles Davis, the Kinks, the Grateful Dead, Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin, Luther Vandross, Annie Lennox, Carly Simon, Alan Jackson, Brooks and Dunn, Jennifer Hudson, and Rod Stewart. His is the imprimatur that has helped shape contemporary music and our popular culture for the past forty-five years.
The Soundtrack of My Life is an essential book for anyone interested in the story of popular music, the workings of the music business, the alchemy of hits, and the dramatic life of a brilliant leader . . . and listener.
“The Midas Touch. Until now, no one has written a book that reveals as much about the industry as Mr. Davis’ book does. It is hard to imagine a better survey of popular music during its 50 year commercial peak than this one.” The Wall Street Journal
"The pages of The Soundtrack of My Life are filled with fantastic scenes and revelations." The Los Angeles Times
“His enormous success comes from luck and a phenomenal gift for recognizing, nurturing and selling talent. His drive helped make him one of the most visionary music men. In his memoir, The Soundtrack of My Life, the man who guided stars from Springsteen to Houston shares the secrets of his success.” People
“Who put the bomp, Barry Mann asked in his 1961 single, in the bomp bah bomp bah bomp? Mr. Mann wanted to shake that person’s hand. For much of the 1960’s, 70’s, 80‘s 90’s and 00’s, a pretty good answer to that existential question was Clive Davis. As the head of Columbia Records and then Arista, the label he founded, Mr. Davis had a knack for introducing good singers to good material. The results tended to be explosive, as if he were dropping packages of Mentos into two-liter bottles of Diet Coke.” The New York Times
“There are so many incredible stories; this book is literally a walk through musical history.” Ryan Seacrest
In this star-studded autobiography, Clive Davis shares a personal, candid look into his remarkable life and the last fifty years of popular music as only a true insider can.
In the history of popular music, no one looms as large as Clive Davis. His career has spanned more than forty years, and he has discovered, signed, or worked with a staggering array of artists: Whitney Houston, Janis Joplin, Simon and Garfunkel, Barry Manilow, Patti Smith, Lou Reed, Dionne Warwick, Carlos Santana, The Grateful Dead, Alicia Keys, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, and Aretha Franklin, to name a few. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy, and hosted the world’s highest profile parties.
In this fully illustrated, personal account, Davis tells all, from becoming an orphan in high school and getting through college and law school on scholarships, to being falsely accused of embezzlement and starting up his own record company, J Records. His wealth of experience offers valuable insight into the evolution of the music business over the past half-century and into the future.
Told with Davis’s unmatched wit, frankness, and style, The Soundtrack of My Life exposes a trove of never-before-heard stories—some hilarious, others tragic, all revealing—that will captivate and inspire all music lovers.
About the Author
Clive Davis has been a leading music industry executive for more than four decades. As chairman of Arista Records, he signed the young Whitney Houston to the label and helped her become one of the top-selling recording artists of all time.